Citizen scorecards for better accountability

Synopsis: The CAG’s auditing standards highlight the importance of performance audits for promoting transparency and evaluating outcomes.

Introduction

Soon, Parliament is going to celebrate 100 years of establishment of the Public Account Committee in December.

What is the Public accounts Committee (PAC)?

It was set up in 1921 under the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms to conduct audits of the Government or the executive. It is thus the oldest parliamentary committee in India. Post-independence, PAC was established through the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Lok Sabha. Similarly, the state PACs are established through their respective Vidhan Sabhas.

It is constituted every year with 15 members from Lok Sabha and 7 members from the Rajya Sabha. Since 1967, a convention has developed that PAC will be headed by an Opposition member from the Lok Sabha.

What is the work of PAC?

Review: It reviews the financial and performance audits which have been conducted by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). The review reports are then presented to the Parliament.

Performance Scorecards: Soon, it is going to develop citizen-centric performance scorecards for various ministries. This will ensure better delivery of public services to citizens. Citizen scorecards developed by PAC can be standardized by the CAG, and can also be replicated by the PACs in state Assemblies.

What are the citizen scorecards?

All government departments and agencies are responsible for providing certain citizen-centric services to the public. These services can be tracked quantitatively through well-defined performance metrics. Using these metrics, a report card or scorecard will be developed.

Example:  Civil Aviation Ministry provides information on passengers flown, flight punctuality, passenger grievances, seat utilisation, pilot licences issued, and so on. These are released on a monthly basis to the public and are tracked closely by the media.

How can the scorecards be made?

The CAG could sign MoUs with various ministries and agencies to establish well-defined citizen scorecards. Once these citizen-facing output metrics are ready, they can be used to conduct high-quality performance audits for each government entity within the CAG’s purview. These citizen scorecards can then be replicated in the state CAGs. The citizen scorecards could be reconciled with the SDGs as well.

How these scorecards will prove beneficial?

These scorecards will bring accountability. Our bureaucracy has become used to putting facts and figures that do not directly relate to citizen’s lives. This scorecard thus reverses the trend and can make the executive more accountable.

Source: This post is based on the article “Citizen scorecards for better accountability“ published in Business Standard on 22nd September 2021.

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